Working Woman

Today was my first day back to work, from home anyway. I still have yet to move on from my daily outfit of pajamas and slippers but I figured since my mind is sound for the most part (except the part of the day I am on Valium–loopy loop loop!) and 95% of my job is writing, it’s something I can easily do from anywhere. And I can’t overestimate how incredibly supportive my team has been–from flowers in the hospital to donated PTO to daily emails of support; it’s nothing short of overwhelming. But there’s this thing in the back of mind, that’s been nagging me. I’m guessing a lot of people with cancer and other longer term diseases deal with. That I’m going to fall behind or be forgotten.

I’m not a super competitive person, I never have been. I love my job and am so blessed to have been able to travel to the many countries I have and work with some of the most inspiring and talented people out there. But do I want to run the American Red Cross or become a jet set CEO running some Fortune 500 company? Never. Not even an inkling of desire. But when I think about the opportunities I may be missing out over the next year because of doctors appointments, chemo, radiation and reconstruction, I do get a little bummed.

I got my diagnosis two days after the typhoon struck the Philippines. My sister had to come pick me up from our disaster operations center where I was helping monitoring and responding to social media around Haiyan. I know work goes on without me; I’ve gone on enough 3 weeks trips to know that my role is such a small one that the wheels keep turning even when I’m gone. But I like being part of the wheel. And so while the rest of my coworkers were busy helping with the Philippines, I was stuck at doctor’s offices and talking to insurance companies. I hate feeling helpless.

It’s a weird thing. I am so blessed to have found the cancer early, especially since I never ever did self exams, but the second I found out, all other plans changed. I was looking forward to going to Haiti this year and possibly the Philippines. I’ve been with the Red Cross for two years and I have yet to see a disaster first hand. I’m not complaining by any means. But with 4-6 months of chemo ahead, any possible travel is off the table. And because they removed 7 lymph nodes during surgery, I have a higher risk for lymphodema meaning any flight over 5 hours necessitates special precautions. I wonder how other people with longer term illness deal with these kinds of feelings. I guess it’s kind of like maternity leave. Things go on without you and then you come back and get back into the swing of things. I want to be relevant, I want to be helpful, I want to still be a go-to person at my job. But I know right now, that’s not always going to be possible.

I have a presentation on Thursday that’s just an hour or so. And although I still have my drains in, I really want to be able to do it in person myself. I know my two coworkers are more than happy to cover for me, but I want to be well enough to be the one to give it. We’ll see. I know I have to give myself time. Today was kind of a shitty day pain wise. I know I’ve been lifting too much and not being as cognizant as I should be. I just want to be better already. And to be fair, when on some of these meds, it’s easy to feel like Superman. But when I rush myself, it comes back to bite me in the butt.

Last night we went to Red Rocks, a local pizza place that’s one of our regular night outs, and although I was just sitting the whole time, when we stopped by the Giant for a few things afterwards, Mom had to bring me to the car when it became apparent I was about to faint. One step forward, two steps back.

Patience, patience. And faith. I guess that’s the answer to everything, right? And listening to your momma, as mine keeps telling me.




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